April 29, 2016 – An Exceptional Day

Great News!!!

Honoring The Doughboys, Following My Grandfather’s World War Diary

My Grandfather’s Story is going to be in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum Bookstore!!!

My book will begin on a trial basis.

The greatest thing a person can receive is a chance!

To Order:

         My book can be ordered from any fine bookstore and also from Amazon.

You can also pick it up on your next trip to the Smithsonian!

PLUS

Santa Fe, NM
April 29, 2016

I presented my book, Honoring the Doughboys, to Four Star General Frank Grass. He is the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. Looking on is General Andrew Salas, the Adjutant General of New Mexico. It was a Grand moment!
Charles Cragin took the photo.

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Pancho Villa’s Columbus Raid Centennial, March 9 – 12, 2016

March 9, 2016 – Wednesday – Columbus, New Mexico
100th  Anniversary of the Pancho Villa Raid
200 some Columbus Raid descendants and friends in attendance

Columbus Raid 100th

Colonel Ken Nava, of the New Mexico National Guard, escorts Helen Ayers Patton to the reviewing stand.  Helen is the granddaughter of the great WWII general, George S. Patton, Jr.

 

 

 

 

US Border Patrol Color Guard Team

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On the original Pershing reviewing stand waiting to speak at the ceremony:

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Helen Patton and CAPT David Poe representing the Pershing Rifles and the Pershing family.

 

 

 

 

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“The caskets were loaded on the train — one — by — one.”  Richard Dean lamented in a slow measured tone. Richard is a native of Columbus and an authority on Pancho Villa’s pre-dawn raid on the slumbering little town.  He was the first speaker and took the audience, of some two hundred, through the attack and detailed the killing of each of the ten town’s residents.  He took us back to that morning of one hundred years ago and we could all deeply feel the town’s anguish.  There also was a heavy sense that after all these years the wounds had not completed healed.

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Mr Dean then introduced the next speaker and honored guest, Helen Patton.  Helen lives in Reims, France and traveled to Columbus for this commemoration.  Villa’s raid initiated the US Army’s response with the Punitive Expedition, commanded by General John J. Pershing. Helen’s grandfather, George S. Patton, Jr. had been General Pershing’s Aide.   She brought life and spirit to the podium when she recited or rather preformed the poem (Marching in Mexico) written by her grandfather while in Mexico. Helen recited the poem with such energy and spirit – history came alive!  Marching In Mexico

 

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CAPT David Poe delivering the message from Mrs. Pershing and the Pershing Family with pride and conviction.  Mrs. Pershing’s eloquent words transcended time.  SPershing Columbus Remarks 02292016

 

 

 

 

Columbus Raid 100th

The next speaker was General Andrew Salas, Adjutant General of New Mexico.  With great passion he told the story of how eighteen year old Susan Parks risked her life, during the attack, to get to the switchboard and call the New Mexico National Guard for help.  The Guard was stationed in Deming, New Mexico thirty miles to the north.  The Guard came running and arrived in Columbus several hours later and restored order.

 

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After the Ceremony, General Salas met with four generations of the Susan Parks family.

 

 

 

 

Helen Patton, Capt. David Poe, and Jody Polk Shwartz.  Jody’s grandfather, Harding Polk was George S. Patton, Jr’s roommate at the Virginia Military Academy.  They then transferred to West Point together.  Also, Jody’s father, James Polk, was a WWII officer in George Patton’s 3rd Army.

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March 12, 2016 – Saturday Columbus, New Mexico
Pancho Villa Raid – Centennial Events

The Grand Parade through Columbus.  

Helen Patton in a 1916 Dodge Touring Car, which was the exact model used on the Punitive Expedition.

IMG_0680The doughboy re-enactors

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Following Helen Patton in the old Dodge, were 100 some Mexican horseback riders.  That morning the riders crossed the boarder and entered Columbus.  To the left (on horse back) is Pancho himself.  There were some 100 riders from Mexico – The Binational Villa Cavalcade. On the left, the actor, Rafael Celestino, played Pancho Villa.

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From the left: New Mexico US Congressman, Steve Pearce, Pancho, Antonio Villa Alcázar (great, great grandson of Pancho Villa), and Columbus Mayor, Phillip Skinner.   Antonio palled around with our group (including Helen Patton) for the rest of the day.

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Jeff and Pancho!

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Closing Ceremony – The 13th Cavalry (Ft. Bliss, Texas) assembled for the benediction, lowering of the Flag, and Taps.

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That evening our group enjoyed a Grand Friendship dinner in Deming, NM, which included Antonio Villa Alcázar, a great, great grandson of Pancho Villa.

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Antonio was invited to the Columbus commemorations by Heribert von Feilitzsch and his wife, Berkley.  Heribert is an author and authority on the Mexican Revolution and the Pancho Villa Raid.  During his research he befriended Antonio.  Antonio is 27 yrs old, educated in Europe, and is a real estate developer in Juárez, Mexico.   From the left, Berkley, Heribert, and Helen Patton.  Visit Heribert’s amazing website:http://felixsommerfeld.com/author/mexican-revolution-book/

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This is what reconciliation looks like!  Antonio and Helen

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Because Helen wrote the Foreword to my book, Honoring The Doughboys, Following my Grandfather’s World War I Diary,  we both signed a copy for him.  On Monday, March 7, Helen and I signed my book for Mrs. Sandra Pershing and on March 12 we signed another for a descendant of Pancho Villa.  Unbelievable!

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10th Mtn Division Tour – Part Two

There was a cascade of fascinating characters!

Standing to my right is 95 yr old Bruno Cilo, who has been a friend of 10th Mtn Veterans for many years.  He played his trumpet at ceremonies and lunch celebrations with incredible passion!  
To the right is 89 yr old Cathy Chapman,  who is the widow of a 10th Veteran.  She has made this trip many times before.  Also, she was my wife, Annie’s high school PE teacher at the Kent School in Denver.  How life goes around!

Left is Tom Duhs, a retired U.S. Marine officer and military historian extraordinaire.  Tom added his detailed insights and vast 10th Mtn knowledge at every step. 

 

Following The Path of the WWII 10th Mtn Division in Northern Italy – June 17 – 24, 2015

70th Anniversary Descendant’s Tour 

  

June 17 – 18

I joined the tour at the Florence American Cemetery on the morning of June 17.   A beautiful ceremony was held at the cemetery in conjunction with the American Battle Monument Commission and the Descendant’s Association.  

ABMC superentendant,  John  Luncheon,  addresses the audience.  In the background, the Wall of the Missing. 

 

In the front row are the 10th Mtn Veterans who joined the tour.  From Right to Left: Louis Vincent, Bill Hills, Vern Cartner, and Gene Giannobile ( absent from this photo: Euel Akins) 

Officers of today’s 10th Mtn Division were with us for most of the tour.  They are stationed at Ft. Drum, New York, home of the 10th.

 

There was a group of Italian WWII, American  GI re-ractors lead by local 10th Mtn historian, Giovanni Sulld (wheelchair).  Giovanni and his team were most helpful and stayed with us every step of the tour.  Giovanni’s knowledge, kindness, and big heart contributed greatly to the total experience.  

 

That afternoon the buses took us up into the Apennine Mountains northwest of Florence.  Our group of 125 stayed at hotels in the mountain villages of Lazzano and Vidiciatico. These hotels became our base for the next six nights.  To follow the 10th in their northward advance through the Apennines we took day trips. 

The initial objectives of the 10th were to secure Mt. Belvedere and Riva Ridge.  The main highway to northern Italy lay between Mt Belvedere (north) and Riva Ridge (south) and the German army (artillery) held both positions and thus controlled the roadway. 

Mt. Belvedere – looking north from Lizzano. 

  

Riva Ridge – looking south from Mt. Belvedere  

Mt. Belvedere and Riva Ridge are at the core of the 10th Mtn legend.  I have wondered what each of them looked like for most of my life, so to see them with my own eyes was breathtaking.  

Map – Riva Ridge, lower left and Mt. Belvedere to the right of center.

 

Riva Ridge had to be taken first as it was higher in elevation than Mt. Belvedere and protected Mt. Belvedere from an attack. 

On the wintery night of Feburary 18, 1945 the 86th Infantry Regiment scaled the 2,000 vertical ft. cliff face with five assault routes and surprised the Germans early on the morning of the 19th.  After bitter fighting they took and held the entire ridge line.  

Now with momentum, elements of the 85th, 86th, and 87th Infantry Regiments attacked Mt. Belvedere on the night of Feburary 19 and surprised the Germans at breakfast the next morning.  Horrific fighting ensued, but the 10th had seized and held these two critical objectives.  

The legend of the 10th had been born.  No other U.S. Army division could have accomplished these super-human tasks. The courageous and skilled soldiers of the 10th were also trained mountaineers and they had done the impossible.  

Because of the division’s historic feats at Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere the motto of today’s 10th Mtn is: “Climb to Glory”

But, this was just the beginning!

To be continued!

Florence American Cemetery

June 16, 2015

Florence, Italy 

A promise kept – 

Today I laid flowers at the grave of Sangree Froelicher (10th Mountain Division).  He was the older brother of my high school headmaster, Chuck Froelicher (Colorado Academy).  Chuck passed away last year, however; several years ago I told him one day I would lay flowers at his brother’s grave.  Today was the day.  

 

   

Normandy, June 5, Part 2

Ceremony at the town of Carentan.  D-Day Veterans are in the front row.  In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, the Carentan area was the drop zone of the 101st Airborne paratroopers.  

 

Carentan Ceremony – 101st Airborne Color Guard Team.   

Paratroopers dot the evening sky over Utah Beach.  

One hundred – ninety- two brave Americans gave their last full measure at Utah Beach on D-Day.   Seventy- one years later, the same number of lanterns were lit.  As they ascended they drifted northward over the English Channel. 

  

Normandy, June 5, Part 1

  Omaha Beach, Furthest eastern extent of Omaha Beach, Code Name: Fox Red             This section of beach was secured by the First Division – the Big Red One. 

  
To honor my friend, CSM Bill Ryan, I placed flowers and a small American flag at the base of the First Division Monument overlooking Omaha Beach.  Bill passed away in Feburary of this year.  Bill was wounded on the first assault wave on D- Day morning.  He was in the 16th Infantry Regiment of the Big Red One.  

Normandy Day 3 – More

   In the afternoon, we drove to see our friend Helen Patton at her Normandy home.  She surprised Jack and I by presenting each of us with a General Patton commemorative medal.